Mauricio Claver-Carone, until now advisor for the Americas to US President Donald Trump, defends his election as the new president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and he assures that he will dedicate his administration to prevent the region from facing “another lost decade.”
In an interview with Efe, the Cuban-born official reviewed on Monday the process that led him to become the first American at the head of that organization and the prospects of his administration, which he anticipated will be only five years.
After the controversy that raised his application, on which criticism rained down that he believes were directed against his nationality and not because of his proposals, Claver-Carone calls to close that chapter and focus on working for the region to recover from the crisis health problems caused by the corovanirus pandemic and the economic crisis due to the impact of measures to prevent its spread.
He anticipates that among his short-term priorities are digitization and prioritizing the connectivity of rural areas, support for small and medium-sized enterprises as the engine of economies and the mobilization of resources from the private sector, to incentivize investments in the countries region of.
Question: The Argentine Foreign Ministry says 16 members abstained in Saturday’s vote, including five from the region: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. How do you receive the abstention of these economies in the region at the time of your election?
Answer: I think it’s important that we put everything in context with the historic IDB elections. In 2005, when it was the first term of the first time that Luis Alberto Moreno aspired, he won with 56% of the shareholders’ votes and with the support of 20 of the 28 countries in the region.
On Saturday, I won with 67% of the shareholders in total and with the support of 23 of the 28 members of the region. When (Mexican Antonio) Ortiz Mera aspired in ’71, he received 72% of the votes. So it is not contentious nor is it different from obviously there being differences in an election to the IDB Presidency.
Obviously this election has received more attention because I am from the United States and I am the first Hispanic in the United States, a Hispanic-American would say, who aspired and who had a chance to win, but there is no difference in that sense.
(_) In the entire campaign there was not a country, at any time, that disagreed with the agenda that I proposed, the vision that I proposed and what we aspired to achieve in these exceptional times and with the management that we propose. The only thing that was talked about was my nationality.
For this reason, I see it as frankly not only a mandate with the support of two-thirds of the shareholders and the overwhelming majority of the countries in the region towards my candidacy in full, but frankly a consensus towards what is the agenda, the vision that we have proposed for our region, that is very positive.
For countries that spoke out with some kind of concern or discrepancy, I would say better with my nationality, we have already had those conversations. ANDor I spoke yesterday with the president (Alberto) Fernández, (_) I spoke with the president (Sebastián) Piñera this morning (_) I spoke with the president (Carlos) Alvarado of Costa Rica (_) and with Mexico, with its foreign minister ( Marcelo Ebrard).
-P: What will be the first decision after you stand as the candidate for the IDB renewal? What is going to change, what is it going to maintain, what are the first movements going to be?
-R: The governance vision we have proposed is that we are going to return power to the IDB’s board of directors and governors. It will be the directors and governors who are not only going to propose the agenda, (but) with those who are going to consult better than before, who are going to make the important decisions to institutionalize the proposals that we put out in that sense.
In the short term, the immediate thing we will do is incorporate, make decisions jointly in consultation with the directors for a new leadership team, a dynamic, young team, representative of all the subregions of the hemisphere; hopefully what we are looking for is the best candidates who have representation from regions that have never been represented in the leadership of the IDB, including the Caribbean and Central America.
And the other thing that we are going to do immediately, which I already discussed yesterday with the president of the World Bank and we have consulted him and we are going to consult him with the director of the (International) Monetary Fund is to have a meeting to create platforms of joint countries between the international financial institutions. We are going to do that meeting immediately, (_) we aspire on October 2.
(_) We are also carrying out the first steps, part of the mandate that I received from the region, is to start a conversation about capitalization, that conversation has to start immediately, the first day, because it is going to be an arduous, intense and detailed process and we want that this process concludes for final approval at the next meeting of the governors in March in Barranquilla. So we have a lot of work in that regard as well. We have an ambitious short-term agenda, but with great challenges that we want to meet.
-P: In all these plans, he will need more support, because he has received a lot of criticism. For example, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos said that his election “lacked legitimacy.” Several former presidents pointed out that an “unwritten rule” was broken. What other bridges should be built, what other actions do you hope to take to strengthen the work you want to undertake?
-R: Let’s close a chapter. Talking at this point, getting to talk at this juncture of former presidents of the past is counterproductive and frankly a waste of time. It is not even to focus on the current crisis that is being experienced, the health crisis, the economic crisis, and it is basically falling into a trap, which is the trap that they want to set us to remain trapped in a past that will bring us another lost decade.
I made one of the points that I specifically made in my presentation: we will not allow another wasted decade. So I respect the opinion of past presidents, but that’s what they are, past presidents.
Here we are in the present and in the future, here in the present the governments of the region, overwhelmingly 23 of the 28 countries voted in favor of our candidacy, our mandate and our vision.
No one has criticized our agenda and our vision for our management, so we have the opportunity to be able to carry this out together and do it in a positive way..
(_) My recommendation to the former presidents who have criticized, if the former presidents want to be constructive in this process, that they do not simply present criticism for my nationality, that they present projects on how to help the region out of the health crisis, The economic crisis, the worst economic crisis in the history of the region, is what we are doing, it is what the governments are doing today and it is frankly what we must focus on at this time.
NOT A COMPETITION WITH CHINA
-P: Some have suggested that his bid for the IDB presidency is part of the US strategy to cut off China’s advance in this body, basically after the Assembly headquarters changed. Is that so?
-R: Here is basically a new historic commitment by the US to help the region emerge from the health crisis and begin an economic recovery and be able to once again enter a period of economic growth for our neighbors. That while we grow, that we all grow together.
(_) In that sense, there is no competition with China in the region. If you think about it, right? We have been, are and are very confident that we will continue to be – and now speaking as a United States official – the preferred partners of the region..
Now, to be a preferred partner and to be a good partner, you have to be present: here what we are doing again is to say present. Here is the United States, we want a better relationship with our neighbors, we want to help our neighbors in the region.
It is a new commitment, a historic commitment, a commitment to renewed rapprochement with the region, a realignment due to the health crisis and the economic crisis, a realignment that has frankly been welcomed, that has been positively received by a great majority. of the countries of the region.
(…) The United States has invested a trillion dollars in the region, China has invested more than 100,000 million, so it is not a question of competition, it is a question of ensuring ourselves and helping our neighbors to have economic stability that translates into political stability and frankly that is good for everyone in the neighborhood where we live.
With information from EFE